June 6, 2013 | Vol. 117 -- No. 7

Ordering: it's about eating, not selling

Write to the Point

I don’t know about you folks but I’m tired of the upsell.

I realize that’s what our consumerism society is all about, buying more whether we need it or not. After all, bigger is always better.

But I’m tired of it, especially when it comes to food, and I mean fast food. I don’t normally partake in fast food – I’ve found better, tastier offerings in cookbooks that are easy to make once you have a good stockpile of the right ingredients and tools.

But now and then necessity steers me to the drive-thru lane and all I want is something quick and easy. So here’s a warning to any fast food manager or employee who might read this: When you see me coming, don’t try to up sell me. Because I’m thinking the next time it happens, I might employ a tactic once suggested by comedian George Carlin to keep people alert – “Bargain with them.”

Negotiate. It might go something like this.

“Hi, welcome to McClown Queen, Sr., can I interest you in a gigantic, ultimate bacon Carbo-thon Burger,” the voice squawks from the tiny speaker in the brilliantly lit menu.

“Uh, what’s in it?” I ask, searching the sign to find a monstrous poster-sized picture of this monument to heart disease so neatly assembled it can’t possibly be moved. Rats, no description.

“One pound of hamburger topped with half a package of bacon, half a ham, one pound of cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions and zucchini with a quart of special barbecue sauce between two whole wheat buns sautéed in butter,” the voice says. “Can I get one started for you, possibly in a combo meal?”

“All I wanted was two cheeseburgers,” I say. “Why should I try this?”

“Well, it’s delicious.”

“Really. More so than the cheeseburgers?”

“Well they’re good too, but many people love the ultimate Carbo-thon.”

“Really. Like who?”

“Excuse me.”

“What people? You said many like it. Who?”

“I’m not sure, but I know people do. Would you just like the cheeseburgers?”

“Well wait a minute, you’ve got me intrigued by this carbo-thing. I mean if it’s so good, maybe I should try it. I can be the first on my block, but what’s in it for me?”

“Excuse me?”

“Well if it’s so good that you’re trying to get me to spend more money, maybe we should talk. I see on the sign it’s the most expensive item on the menu.”

“We offer financing.”

“Yes, but maybe we can make a deal. Will you give me say, 50 percent off if I try a combo meal?

“Uh, I can’t do that.”

“OK. How about I buy a Carbo-thon combo meal, and you toss in two cheeseburgers and an extra fry. I can have them later.”

“I can’t do that.”

“Well, how about just the Carbo-thon and an iced tea? Oh, and one cheeseburger.”

“I can’t do that either.”

“I see. You must be on commission. Can I talk with the manager? They’re usually just trying to unload product. Maybe he can make a deal.”

“I can’t hear you sir, there’s too much honking.”

“Don’t worry, that’s just the line of cars behind me. Let them make their own deals.”

“Two cheeseburgers sir, please pull forward, I’ll have your total at the window.”

“Wait, we’re just getting started. Hello. Hello.”

Rats. Oh well. But you get the point. Most of us stop at our favorite drive-thru’s because we already know we like their food and usually have something already in mind. If we want something new, we will order it without prompting.

And as for negotiating, ask me sometime about monogrammed handkerchiefs.

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